No, your child cannot sue you for child support – not yet, anyway. Recently, 18-year-old Rachel Canning caused a national stir when she sued her parents in a potentially precedent-setting lawsuit: the New Jersey teenager filed a lawsuit against her parents requesting $654 in child support per week, thousands of dollars in attorney fees, and immediate reimbursement of her high school tuition.
Ms. Canning claimed her parents threw her out of their Lincoln Park home two days before her 18th birthday, whereas her parents insisted the teenager moved out voluntarily. Her father, Sean Canning, explained that his daughter left the family home because she didn’t want to do reasonable household chores, be respectful, or abide by their curfew. Mr. Canning stated that “the whole thing is just destroying our family. We love our daughter. She’s our pride and joy.” A retired Police Chief, Mr. Canning explained that he’s “a liberal, liberal parent… I was tougher on my cops at work than I’ve ever been at my home, that’s for sure.”
Last week, Morris County Court Judge Peter Bogaard ruled in favor of the Canning’s, reasoning that any other decision would set a bad precedent by setting limits on parenting. The court expressed concern that Ms. Canning’s rare case, if successful, could inspire similar suits in the future. Brian Schwartz, chairman of the New Jersey Bar Association’s Family Law Section states that “in my 20 years of practicing family law in New Jersey, I’ve never seen anything like this.” Adds Jeralyn Lawrence, the incoming Family Law Section chair: “This could open the floodgates of recalcitrant kids fighting with their parents, moving out, and then suing them to keep paying.”
To the relief (presumably) of all parties involved, Ms. Canning returned home to her parents and siblings this morning. During this afternoon’s press conference, Ms. Canning’s lawyer said the suit brought against her parents had been settled “amicably,” and that her return home was not contingent upon any financial or other considerations.
Notably, Ms. Canning was not seeking to be emancipated from her parents – her lawsuit was primarily financially driven. With emancipation, minors essentially function as adults in society. Generally, they can attend the schools of their choice, enter into legally binding contracts, purchase a home, keep any income earned from a job, and so on. In court filings, Ms. Canning insisted she was “old enough to do what she wanted” – but perhaps she realized that without anyone bankrolling her endeavors, her options to do whatever she wants at this stage in her life are fairly limited.
If you have any questions about your family law issues, please contact our California Certified Family Law Specialists (as certified by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization). Having a knowledgeable, experienced family law attorney by your side can prove to be invaluable for your situation. Lonich Patton Erlich Policastri’s attorneys have decades of experience handling complex family law proceedings and offer a free half-hour consultation.
Please remember that each individual situation is unique and results discussed in this post are not a guarantee of future results. While this post may include legal issues, it is not legal advice. Use of this site does not create an attorney-client relationship.
Sources: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/03/05/new-jersey-teen-sues-parents-for-support-claiming-was-kicked-out-home/; http://www.latimes.com/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-rachel-canning-goes-back-to-family-20140312,0,1541517.story#axzz2vmlZmHUm